“Nothing brings on the holiday cheer better than creating a festive environment at home,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance provider.
Whether you are hanging your favorite decorations on the tree, or preparing for an inflatable Santa Clause takeover in your front yard, GreatFlorida Insurance has tips for keeping your holiday decorating safe while spreading joy.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas trees are responsible for $16.2 million in direct property damage annually. NFPA makes some recommendations to keep your Christmas tree safe and enjoyable.
When purchasing an artificial tree look for the “fire resistant” label. While fire risks are lowered with an artificial tree, chemicals and dust on the tree can still pose a fire hazard.
Pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Before placing the tree in a stand, cut off 2 inches from the base of the trunk for better water absorption.
Be sure to add water daily and keep your tree hydrated.
Keep your Christmas tree a minimum of 3 feet from any heat source including, the fireplace, radiator, heat vent or candles.
Holiday Décor/ Lights
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), found more than 86 percent of Americans decorate their homes during the winter holidays. Over 1,000 fires are attributed to Christmas trees and holiday decorations every year. Don’t let your home be a casualty.
Inspect your lights and discard any that are damaged or frayed and worn out.
Turn off lights and decorations when you are going to bed or leaving the house for an extended length of time. Using a timer helps.
Make sure cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation.
Secure inflatable décor properly.
Use lights approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). You will find a holographic sticker marked “UL” on the tag.
“A red UL sticker indicates indoor/outdoor use. A green UL sticker signifies indoor use only,” reminds Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance provider.
Avoid hammering tacks or nails into the electrical cord when hanging lights, use clips instead to safely attach lights to the house.
Don’t overload extension cords by using no more than three sets of standard lights per cord.
Plug outdoor lights and décor into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent shock.
Shut-off fan blowers on inflatables when it is windy.
Periodically check lights and decorations during the holiday season to make sure they are functioning properly and safely.
Using ladders, stools and other furniture to hang lights, ornaments and other decorations increase their risk of injuries and falls during the holiday season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Recognize the possibility that you could fall.
Use safe ladder practices such as making sure the ladder is secure and level.
Make sure the ladder extends at least three feet over the roof line or work area.
Try using a step stool instead of furniture when hanging decorations.
Place cords in low-traffic areas to prevent tripping.
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